Time to remove State Capitol Confederate bust or should it stay as part of Tennessee’s culture?

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Nathan Bedford Forrest

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Is the time right to remove a Confederate general’s bust from the State Capitol or should it stay to protect Tennessee’s culture?

Those were two very different opinions Wednesday from some of those speaking tomorrow about the future of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust that’s on the second floor between the House and Senate chambers.

For the second time, the issue comes before the Tennessee Capitol Commission.

By law, it’s the first step to removing capitol artifacts such as the bust, but in 2017 the group voted 7-5 to keep the bust where it is.

“I am hopeful that Tennessee will seize this opportunity at this time to make the right decision,” said Nashville state lawmaker Brenda Gilmore.

Senator Gilmore has long advocated removing the Forrest bust from the capitol to the state museum.

She is on a list of speakers before the commission.

“I will try to explain to them how…as a black person it feels to walk by that bust every time you come into the State Capitol,” said the lawmaker who served in the Tennessee House before being elected to the Senate.

Revered as a Civil War military tactician, Forrest was a slave trader just before the conflict and by many accounts, an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan before later disavowing the group.

A lawyer for the Sons of Confederate Veterans/Tennessee Division is also on the list of speakers before the commission.

In a statement to WKRN, Doug Jones said in statement that “The tearing down of historical monuments in this country has reached the point of insanity.

“The tearing down of historical monuments in this country has reached the point of insanity. The rioters will next remove all statutes on the Capitol and inside the Capitol. They will destroy every thing to do with President Andrew Jackson….Tennesseans are against removing statutes. Tennesseans want to protect their culture and expect their Governor to follow the rule of law.”

These will just be some of the words heard Thursday as Tennessee talks about what it can do legally with a Confederate general’s bust in the State Capitol.

If the Capitol Commission votes to remove the bust, it would only be the first step.

By a law originally passed in 2013 by state lawmakers, the removal of the bust would also need approval from the Tennessee Historical Commission.

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